Cooperation is the key to innovation

Research by Per Forsberg, senior lecturer at Örebro University School of Business, stresses that cooperation and informal decision-making is crucial for creating innovative shipping companies.

By studying shipping companies from Donsö it became obvious for Per Forsberg that other factors than market forces or hierarchy were important for a successful shipping cluster.
- Shipping companies need to discuss and share knowledge among each other to evolve and become innovative, says Per Forsberg.
His research suggests that cooperation, informal decision-making and meeting places are important factors for success regarding innovations.
- No company would function without cooperation. Some shipping companies are developed to speculate and take high risks. However, these companies are rarely long-lived, says Per Forsberg.

Shipping companies that are driven by a community principle are often family-controlled. The companies value their employees’ experience, their joy of working with shipping and often claim that they have a special culture.
- Family-owned shipping companies are keen on surviving, rather than perhaps stock-owned companies. One example is Furetank that managed to survive by investing in larger and larger tanks and by increasing their efficiency. One important thing for Furetank was also story-telling; with the help of story-telling shipping companies keep a bank of knowledge and experience. This might be the main explanation for why they are making right investment decisions, says Per Forsberg.

However, cooperation and informal meetings are not the only solution, some bureaucracy and hierarchy is needed for stability according to Per Forsberg.
- Nevertheless, cooperation and informal ways or special culture is undervalued – something we need to reconsider if we want innovative companies in the future.